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Sarah Palin's Modus Operandi

Updated on November 6, 2011

A Post-Tucson Analysis of Sarah Palin’s reversal of fortune

A friend might point out to Sarah Palin that she’s been the author of most of her own problems and, perhaps, she should look at the following behavior pattern:

  1. Sarah makes a statement, takes a particular position or puts herself before the media in some other way.
  2. There is criticism of number 1 from the media or public. If the criticism is damaging enough, Sarah has to defend her position, elucidate what she really meant, or spin the earlier position into something else.
  3. The public or media’s criticism of 2 suggests that Sarah has not done an adequate job, and she has to issue additional statements clarifying what she really, really meant.
  4. Sarah arrives at a final stance that modifies or changes her initial position.

Sometimes her final position seems to have morphed from something that was quite different at the outset. What’s been disastrous for Palin is that she has had an almost uncanny knack of turning her gaffes into triumphs: This has been disastrous because Palin was reinforced in her belief that she was ahead of all pundits, since she’d usually answered her critics in a manner that still left her in contention for her candidacy for president in 2012. The notion that a friend feels a kind of infallibility is disquieting enough, however, when a leader with power believes this of herself, (or himself), it is dangerous.

No doubt any reader arriving at this point will have already tested the soundness of my thesis. However, if any are still in doubt, the following examples, in no particular order, should help the argument:

The Bridge to Nowhere

Palin began by celebrating the money from the Feds (as illustrated in the image below). However, although the much maligned pundits pointed out that she was contradicting an earlier position, she became a celebrated icon for her no nonsense message of independence in finance and thought. Palin had reversed positions without any reversal of fortune. In fact, she went on to make a virtue of her new found independence from Federal finances.


Palin made the common mistake over the word “repudiate”. And it is a common enough mistake that style guides often flag the word for that very reason. However, rather like a naughty student, Palin’s response was to take down the original post and replace the offending word with “reject”. She’d excused using the word suggesting the slip was similar to a Bushism rather than, say, a malapropism. Still under attack, she went on to suggest she’d coined a new word on purpose much like Shakespeare. The fact that the New American Oxford English Dictionary named Palin’s “Refudiate” word of the year says more about the savviness of the publishers than the word’s creator. (It’s naive of anyone to think that even Palin’s mistake was original but her ability to spin the story must have struck her critics as almost miraculous!) However, it was something of a political victory and helped reinforce Palin’s belief in her own propaganda. More importantly, this example illustrates a worrying need to be right even when tripped by a slip of the mind or tongue.

Resigning as Governor of Alaska

Again, this story seems to illustrate Palin’s ability for garnering support for an action that would normally be viewed far from positively by any electorate. I had a sense that the pundits were almost stunned as Palin gave her doublespeaky explanation. The principal reason given for quitting was so that Palin could serve the American people better. Many felt that the Palin’s substantial debts, many because of law suits defending charges of misusing her office as governor, were a major factor in her decision. Serving the people and making a great deal of money while promoting myself and serving the people are two very different things – and to pretend they’re one and the same smacks of hypocrisy.

Palin Punked

This is an amusing example of Palin’s naïveté rather than illustrating the above; however, anyone listening to this interview must wonder whether the tone Palin took when thinking she was speaking to the French head of state is appropriate in one seeking a similar post in her own country. I have studiously avoided any reference to Palin’s intelligence; however, listening to the tape does seem to support all of the rather unkind things many in a position to know have said about her mind

Explanation of Cross-Hairs & Subsequent Post-Tucson Statements and Interviews

I don’t think this most recent example reveals anything new about either her character or personality. Certainly her modus operandi is typical. Put up a map where there is no ambiguity about the cross-hairs, after the shooting say that everyone misinterpreted the images. However, it better illustrates the thesis because Palin’s usual strategies now are revealed so starkly that none but her most ardent supporters will fail to see traits that are unattractive in a person and fatal in a president or, for that matter, any position of power. Also, Palin’s lack of apologies for any mistake worryingly suggest that she finds it difficult to either reflect on her own behavior or acknowledge mistakes to herself. Perhaps this explains why learning appears to be so difficult for Palin.

Running for President

Her interviews and statements were so self-serving and revealing that, in all likelihood, her chances of being a serious presidential candidate are greatly diminished. If she continues to be viewed as a serious candidate for president or any position of power, the year 2012 will sound a great deal more ominous.

Sarah Palin Refudiates Critics

Sarah Palin holding a T-shirt related to the Gravina Island Bridge
Sarah Palin holding a T-shirt related to the Gravina Island Bridge | Source


February 5, 2010

February is Reagan/Palin Appreciation Month, if you hadn't heard!

It looked as if both Palin and her family were taking a bit of a beating in the media at the start of the month. Palin had been criticized for some lack-luster speechifying when, WTF, I recognized that anyone writing off Sarah Palin as a candidate doesn't understand her arching ambition. It's no accident she continues to try and associate herself with President Reagan. And it's no accident that February is even being proclaimed:

Reagan/Palin Appreciation Month

Any reader wishing to add their name to promoting Palin to join Regan in the Presidential Pantheon can visit the Appreciation site.

February 7, 2011

The transcript of Sarah Palin speech was posted on the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). There seems little to remark on. Those who are not Palin's fans will continue to be mystified as they scratch their heads and look at her most recent speech with a mixture of fear and wonder that an idea-challenged barely articulate woman earned a degree in journalism let alone that she commands many devout followers who have the ardour of Eric Hoffer's true believers. Her followers seem to suggest that the transcript wasn't punctuated properly and continue to cite their view that she seems to represent a vein of Patriotism like no other contender – they're qualities that you either get or don't.

There is a tone of desperation as her attacks on the President seem to be an attempt to tap into the anti-intellectual movement with her previous comments about professorial types and now how he missed his 3:00 moment with Egypt. However, many in the media will be comforted to hear that on The Sarah Palin Information Blog as well as on The Brody File “how she's trying to help the mainstream media.” The video of her speech is available at the CBN site.

Again, her views on Egypt have been panned as showing her ignorance on a number of scores including not recognizing how any perception of American meddling would have done a great deal of damage to those fighting for the cause of democracy in Egypt. A blog by Michael Shatz entitled "Sarah Palin shows ignorance on Egypt", among others, sum up this viewpoint well.

February 20, 2011

Elsewhere I've acknowledged a less than reverent tone I adopt when writing about Sarah Palin. However, anyone who belittles her chances for the Presidency are underestimating how attractive a candidate she remains to disaffected voters in particular, despite her many deficits. I believe she's been and continues to be more of a likely candidate for the Republican's 2012 candidate than either the polls or odds makers' suspect.

18 April, 2011: "Sarah Palin's Alaska" receives over $1,000,000 subsidy

Alaskan taxpayers coughed up over a million dollars to subsidize a third of the $3.6 million spent by TLC on "Sarah Palin's Alaska." No laws were broken and the production was probably accessing incentives that are offered my many states to attract film business, but some will view Palin with a more jaundiced eye. Hypocrisy and politicians go together like horses and carriages and the item is hardly newsworthy except for Palin's constant attacks on wasteful or pretty well any other kind of government spending suggests that she has earned some kind of honorific because of the number and degree of her hypocrisies. I find the news item particularly amusing since I've recently written an article entitled: Would you Betray your Principles for $1,000,000?


The Bridge to Nowhere

Reuters reported on Palin’s support of the funding for the bridge prior to reversing her position after McCain had held it up as an example of wasteful spending.

YouTube Palin was for 'Bridge to Nowhere'


The Washington Post 19 June 2010: Palin invents word 'refudiate,' compares herself to Shakespeare

abcNews Congratulations, Sarah Palin: “Refudiate” Named Word of the Year

Resigning as Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin resigns as Alaska's governor, raising speculation on 2012 Alaska's governor Sarah Palin to resign, dooming her presidential pipe dream

Palin Punked

Palin Punk!d

Abc News Palin Punk'd By Prank Call

Explanation of Cross-Hairs & Subsequent Post-Tucson Statements and Interviews

CbS News Sarah Palin Responds to Tucson Shooting

NY Sarah Palin on Tucson shooting: I'm not to blame for violence in Arizona

The Huffington Post Sarah Palin Presidential Odds Plummet On InTrade After Arizona Shooting


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    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Well said, Sembj!

    • TravelinAsia profile image

      TravelinAsia 7 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia


      Thank you for a great hub! Even better than your hub are your above comments to "American Romance". Very well said, sensible and diplomatic.

    • Sembj profile image

      Sembj 7 years ago

      I've just finished reading your Hub "Why Can't Liberals Publish My Comments" and although I'm not really sure what your comments have to do with what I've written, I'm happy to print them. (I'm not sure how useful it is, though.)

      Hitler, Mussolini, The Rolling Stones, Billy Graham, The Beatles, the Pope and even Obama could or can fill stadiums - other than saying these people are popular, along with Sarah Palin, I'm not sure of your point. Sadly, star power or being "a celebrity" doesn't tell us anything about the character of the star.

      My criticism of Palin was meant to be a slightly humorous but nonetheless serious analysis of a pattern of behavior that i've observed and quite willing to debate. For instance, I didn't mention either Jared Loughner or his motives so your comments don't seem to have much to do with the article, since I don't attempt to describe let alone understand Loughner's motives.

      I've read both your comment and a Hub of yours to better understand your position. I still feel that while you may have read my article, you haven't really responded to its central thesis. Getting responses from others is always gratifying particularly if they give an opportunity for an exchange of ideas. Exchanging insults or accusations seems counterproductive for anyone but the angry. I much rather trade ideas than insults.

    • American Romance profile image

      American Romance 7 years ago from America

      OMG! I laughed untill I peed myself! Sarah is the only one that can fill a stadium full of people in minutes! She is a wonderful person and yet you morons want her dead! You used targets and she used cross hairs? whats the difference? Your idiotic president said if they bring a knife we will bring a GUN! whats the difference? Democrats murdered the Davidians by burning them alive, they treat Fonda as a hero after she helped kill our children and demoralize them, Oswald that killed Kennedy was a left wing moron, Loughner read the communist manifesto and hated Bush, other than that had nothing to do with politics, .........maybe you should be looking at your own people for the sake of murders and weirdos!

      Oh yea and lets not forget your all a bunch of hypocrites, Obama sat and laughed while Wanda Sikes said she hoped Rush died of kidney failure!

    • Sembj profile image

      Sembj 7 years ago

      Whoops, sorry nicomp, I was up reading and making comments into the early hours of this morning and had been reading an article written by My Esoteric and not you.

      I read a Hub or two of yours and now remember you as the writer who made things like Domain Names both informative and entertaining. I'll have to go back and digest some more soon as I hope to start a website sometime prior to Spring.

      And thank you for the comment about my writing being mostly fair and balanced; I do feel my own sympathies are pretty apparent but try to temper them somewhat by suggesting the rationale behind the thinking as much as possible. Ideally people on different sides of an argument should make some attempt to understand each other's perspective. It does get quite difficult since there are so many debates where each side seems to view reality from quite different perspectives. It makes it both interesting and challenging tackling the topics that are lightening rods for this reason, and it is somewhat of a challenge to convey a view point in this atmosphere. Nice compliment, thanks.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Indeed, our choices are sadly limited. McCain or Obama? Yikes.

      BTW, I thought your writing was mostly fair and balanced, and I have not written a hub on Obama's first two years.

    • Sembj profile image

      Sembj 7 years ago

      Thanks nicomp. It's probably quite clear where my sympathies lie. However, increasingly, democracies are offering fewer choices, I'd argue, since I think many very wealthy corporations have greatly increased their influence as they've become wealthier and wealthier leaving many people relatively poorer. Those still with a desire to vote are increasingly faced with a Hobson's Choice. (Later) Just finished enjoying your Hub on Obama's first two years. I still believe that we live in times where many hold their noses prior to voting.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      I lost all respect for her when she quit as governor. She's about as qualified to be president as Obama was: they both held elected office for a relatively short period, then walked away before their terms expired.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      I lost all respect for her when she quit as governor. She's about as qualified to be president as Obama was: they both held elected office for a relatively short period, then walked away before their terms expired.

    • Sembj profile image

      Sembj 7 years ago

      I think you're right about Palin's thin skin; it's amazing how fragile the egos are of so many politicians and others who should feel more secure about themselves.

      I've just read a couple of your Hubs and really enjoyed them. And I particularly liked both the sketch of Occam's Razor and the thought behind it! I signed on as a follower so I can see your future posts.

    • Ken Thibado profile image

      Ken Thibado 7 years ago from Utica

      You nailed it.

      Every time she speaks begins a process of crisis management. At this point she almost starts from a defensive posture, and then lashes out.

      She's a bit thin-skinned when it comes to criticism. But she knows how to self-promote.

      Well put.

    • Sembj profile image

      Sembj 7 years ago

      Thank you MyEsoteric. I've just come from reading your profile, and your thoughts on education in one of your pieces. I enjoyed reading both and look forward to reading more.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 7 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      BRAVO!! I am glad I am your first comment. Well done!


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